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A Hybrid (Remote + Live Instruction) Model that Works

July 1, 2020 pm31 12:42 pm

A teacher described her niece and nephew’s school. A and B weeks. (not high school). Everyone knew the schedule, followed it. Worked. Everyone wore masks. And kids had the option of staying remote, but they did not, and they will go back live in September.

BS fantasy?

No.

NYC?

No. NYC probably cannot successfully do blended learning. Oh, we are still working on it. But most schools are waiting and seeing. The only progress I’ve heard of so far involves keeping over 50% of classes fully remote, or keeping over 50% of students fully remote (and everything’s worse in high schools).  We will find something, and it will be too expensive. Or too limited. And despite demands from politicians, A/B weeks for everyone? I don’t think so.

Not NYC. Read more:

I have family in Germany. today is their last day…they feel comfortable with everything that has been put in place.. One week in building and the next virtual. No parents allowed inside. Teachers and students wear mask, they have been very good at social distancing and washing hands. There is 10 children in the room plus the teacher and an aide. Majority of the parents have let their children return even with the option of straight virtual learning. My Cousin said she will let them do building again in September (ages 5 and 9).

I asked about numbers, and the answer:

only 10 all depends on the room size and she said the lowest she heard was 8…. with one teacher. she did mention a lot of furniture was taken our the rooms just desk. temperature checks for everyone and PPE equipment was supplied and well stocked

This is not “German punctuality” or neatness. This works because on a regular day there are 16 – 20 kids in those German classes.

This is not a post about COVID and hybrid learning.

It is a post about class size, and class, and race.

It is about schools that serve Black and Brown and Immigrant and poor students not being able to do what other schools do.

It did not have to be this way. The United States did not have to have a piecemeal approach to education, with public urban schools, parochial schools, public suburban schools, public rural schools, and private schools offering substantially different educational experiences in substantially different conditions.

But that is what we have. Northern urban schools were for the poor, the immigrants. Then for Black children. Everybody’s looking to carve out exceptions. Progressive schools. Special schools. My school. But at their heart, our urban school systems pack in poor kids. Used to churn them out without graduating. Now churn them out with a test-prepped diploma that does not always mean what we want it to mean.

And part of this system? Doesn’t matter how many kids we squeeze in a room. I mean, NYC does have limits. 32 elementary, 33 middle school, 34 high school. Numbers that would cause outrage elsewhere.

Want smaller classes?

Move. Plenty of places would never put 30 children in a class. But don’t move to another northern city. Move to Germany? That’s a lot to ask. Maybe a fancy suburb. Maybe a rural area. Or pay. Could you imagine the inside of a private school? With space.

But I’m not writing about individual solutions. It is way past time for this. We cannot continue to think of as “normal” 34 students in a high school class.

This is systemic. This is providing separate, unequal education to our urban students, mostly poor, mostly Black or brown or immigrant. This needs to end. Black Lives Matter! But it’s ok if Black educations are a matter for another day?

How much would it cost to get class sizes down somewhere near reasonable?

Reasonable? 20 kids in an elementary class? 25 in a high school class? Split the difference in between?

Cost? Cost to dramatically improving the education of one point one million New York City children? We all talk about cost. I do. And it’s disgusting. It’s racist, and classist. These are our children. Not potholes. Not tax abatements.

We need to hire many more teachers and paraprofessionals. Maybe 20,000 teachers. That’s a wild guess. I don’t know how many paras, can’t even guess.

We need more classrooms. We need to build schools. I don’t know the math for this one. There are 1800 public schools in NYC, but that’s not the correct number of buildings, which is less. I am certain that 100 new buildings is not enough. 300? I’ll throw out 300, but I could be way off.

So wait? Thousands of teaching and paraprofessional jobs? A massive multi-year construction project, spread across the five boroughs?  And better education for one point one million NYC children, mostly poor, many Black, many LatinX, many immigrant, mainly poor? Win. Win. Win. Win. And not little wins. All of these make New York City better, help our people, help our children.

The money? We will need a lot. Borrow it. Weren’t we able to borrow after 9/11? Defund the police? We saw the smoke and mirrors in the City budget passed yesterday. They nibbled. Not at the edges but at the edges of the edges. How about we replace the police, and eliminate their repressive functions. Let’s see what Minneapolis does, and – we are New York – do it better. Reduce the size the replacement agencies. Sell off the military equipment. Recoup a lot of money. Tax the rich. Seriously. No need to be timid. We can’t make them work for the common good. But you know what they have a lot of? Money.

And you know what?  If we did these things a decade ago, this would be a better city. And we would have a whole lot more flexibility with our schools today.

Whose fault is it that we did not? And that we do not?

Is it too late to hire the teachers and build the schools to make hybrid work in September? Unfortunately, yes.

Is it too late to join the fight against institutional racism by building more schools and lowering class sizes for New York City’s children? Absolutely not. Get on board.

 

 

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